Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Sphero raises $12M as it focuses on education


This year has been a rough one for Sphero. The Colorado-based toy robotics startup kicked off the year with dozens of layoffs, a result of tepid interest in its line of Disney-branded consumer products.


Here’s a little good news, however. The company has raised another $12 million, bringing its total up to around $119 million, according to Crunchbase. The latest round will go into helping shape the BB-8 maker into an education-first company.


“The recent round of funding has currently raised $12 million, and we anticipate at the time of final closing up to $20 million may be raised in total,” Sphero said in a statement provided to TechCrunch. Funding has/will come from existing and new investors and will be used for working capital as we engage in a larger strategy that focuses on the intersection of play and learning.”


It’s a tricky play, given how overcrowded the world of coding toys is at the moment, but Sphero has long been building out its play in the space, in tandem with its more consumer-focused offerings.


Following the success of its The Force Awakens BB-8 tie in, the company quadrupled down on its involvement with Disney’s accelerator, releasing high-tech toys based on Spider-Man and Lightning McQueen from Cars.


“[Education] is something we can actually own,” the company told me after the layoffs were revealed. “Where we do well are those experiences we can 100 percent own, from inception to go-to-market.”


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